Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Creep 2: The Return of America’s Talkiest Serial Killer

The serial killer now calling himself Aaron (in honor of a recent victim) has always been somewhat prone to New Agey Deepak Chopra psycho-babble. All that self-actualization talk makes his murders even scarier. Yet, it also leaves him weirdly prone to crises of confidence and inspiration, but he always remains extraordinarily dangerous and unpredictable. America’s talkiest serial killer commences a new game of cat-and-mouse in Patrick Brice’s Creep 2 (trailer here), a Blumhouse production, which releases today on VOD.

Unlike old, dead videographer Aaron, Sara came to the “Creep’s” house thinking she would be the one using him. Her thing was Encounters, a floundering web series, in which she would film meetings with various sad, strange men who had placed personal ads online. Aaron sounded like a loon, which would be good for business, but she has no idea how right she is.

Sara assumes Aaron is full of it when he starts boasting of his many murders, but we know better. Nevertheless, she finds he preoccupation rather unsettling. He even shows her the last scene of the previous movie, but she still doesn’t believe he is the real deal. Of course, she will eventually learn better. She is in over her head, but Sara is tougher mentally than his typical victims. Plus, he might not be at the top of his game either—but there is always a good chance Aaron (formerly Josef) is playing her.

You have to give Brice and co-screenwriter Mark Duplass credit, because they basically keep the exact same formula (two strangers video-taping each other in a remote luxury home), but change-up the particulars substantially enough so that Creep 2 does not feel like a rerun of Creep 1. Obviously, the different gender dynamics play a significant role.

During the cringe-inducing Appropriate Behavior, Desiree Akhavan made us all feel like animals compelled to chew off a leg because we were caught in that bear-trap of a film. Happily, Creep 2 proves she can do more than American Pie sex jokes for Brooklyn hipsters. She convincingly portrays Sara as a smart, calculating, and deeply neurotic character, making her one of the most distinctive potential “final girls” of this year’s horror movie season.

Just as he did in the first film, Duplass gleefully chews the scenery, playing “Aaron’s” sinister gamesmanship to the hilt. Frankly, it is a shame Robin Williams never had the chance to dig into a darkly manic character like this. Whether it is real or feigned, Aaron’s bouts of depression give the second go-round an even darker texture. (It ought to prove how mainstream and pervasive depression is within society, when it even affects the psycho killer stalking you.) As an added bonus, indie filmmaker Caveh Zahedi (happily not yet assassinated after the boldly revealing The Sheik and I) appears briefly as a previous guest on Encounters.

As was also the case with the first film, Creep 2 is remarkably smoothly cut together by editor Christopher Conlon, especially assuming there was a good deal of improvising going on again. Yet, there are several departures from the first film specifically and horror movie conventions in general that leave us intrigued by what might lay in store for viewers in third prospective film of the projected trilogy. Recommended for fans of found footage and the original Creep, Creep 2 is now available on VOD platforms.